Can You Drink Coffee while Religious Fasting?

Almost all of us fast at some point in our lives. Whether religious or health-related, fasting has become a global phenomenon. So can you drink coffee while religious fasting? Let us find out.

Fasting is observed in all mainstream religions in the world. Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism or Hinduism – all have fasting as a way to clean our bodies and sometimes our souls.

Fasting is the willful refrainment from eating or drinking for a certain period of time.

There is a wide range of food and drinks that are banned or allowed while fasting in different faiths. What to drink while fasting and praying is something a lot of us want to know.

Although sometimes these things can be controversial and not every group of people accept it. Here are faiths that include fasting and their rules about it.

Does Coffee Break a Fast?

Well, the answer to this question is dependent on one main factor – the reason behind your fasting.

If it is a religious fasting, it varies from one religion to another whether you are allowed to drink coffee or consume anything else during the fasting hours.

For the non-religious fasting like intermittent or blood work fasting, it depends on the desired results from the fasting and how important it is to keep your body away from food or drinks intake.

Religious Fasting and Drinking Coffee

It is never easy for a coffee lover to hold on or delay their consumption of a cup of coffee. However, fasting might test your patience, and when it is religious fasting, the rules might get a little more strict and rigid.

Some religions have special days that are marked for fasting. Other religions have specific months that one needs to fast throughout. There are specific rules that need to be observed during fasting for different religions.

However, do all religions have the same adherence to eating and drinking during a fast? Let us have a brief overview of various mainstream religions and their observance of fasting.

Fasting in Christianity

Fasting done by Christians is mainly the 40 days as commemoration of Jesus Christ when he abstained himself from temptation in the desert. It is observed during the Lent period. Catholics observe this as well as some days other than the 40 days of fasting.

These are for example, Ash Wednesday where meat is not allowed, Good Friday and Fridays throughout the year is allowed to fast with one meal only. Two small meals are allowed in morning and evening without meat.

All Christian factions have similar days of fasting and their rules are slightly different from one another. Mainly, all have the days of Lent as fasting and meat, dairy, rich foods, wine and alcohol are banned. Only light meals are allowed once or twice only.

One might wonder does coffee break a fast? The answer is no it does not. Light meals may include coffee or tea.

Fasting in Buddhism

Buddhists fast during meditation, while following Vinaya rules and during Uposatha days. The rules of fasting are to abstain food from afternoon till the next morning.

Animal products are completely banned while milk can be consumed. Also, followers stay away from garlic, wild garlic, welsh onion, garlic chives and edibles of this nature.

Other food or drinks are allowed that means coffee is allowed including with milk.

Fasting in Baha’i Faith

In the Baha’i faith, fasting is observed during the month of Ala or March. It is done from sunrise to sunset and there is complete ban on all food and drinks including smoking.

Adults are required to fast and children, elderly, pregnant women, sick people are exempt from fasting. Labor are not required to fast but if they eat – it is required to do privately.

Fasting in Hinduism

Hindus fast during some days of Pradosha, Ekadasi and Purnima. Some fast on Tuesdays from sunrise to sunset and are allowed to take liquids only. While some fasting on Tuesdays only take milk and fruits.

Some Hindus fast on Thursdays and wear yellow clothes. They eat only yellow food products including bananas. Fasting on festival days is also common such as on Maha Shivaratri and just before Diwali.

Most follow one meal a day without meat while some follow stricter rules of no food or drinks completely. Allowed foods include peanuts, fruits and milk products. Animal, eggs or meat is completely banned.

Sikhism has no fasting at all in their faith. Only medical fasting is recommended.

Coffee is therefore allowed to be consumed.

Fasting in Islam

Islam also has a fasting month called Ramadan where believers are not allowed to eat, drink or smoke anything from dawn till dusk.

Ramadan fasting is obligatory for all except children, elderly, pregnant women, nursing women, women on periods, people that are travelling, sick people, mentally ill people and women who delivered a baby or went through a miscarriage.

They are sometimes required to fast later or give out food as charity for the days missed to the poor.

As mentioned, no food or drinks are allowed during a fasting in Islam. Fasting starts at morning prayers (sunrise) and ends with an Iftar at evening prayer called Maghrib (sunset). Muslims completely refrain from food and drinks – hence, no coffee.

Fasting in Judaism

The followers of Moses are called Israelite and practice Judaism. Jews, as commonly called, also observe fasting as a way to cleanse their bodies and souls. They have special days where fasting is observed.

Jews fast six days of the year mainly with the exception of Yom Kippiur. They abstain completely from all food and drinks during fasting. Fasting is not allowed on Shabbath day.

Yom Kippur is the most important of fasting and everyone except children and elderly are exempt. Even those that do eat are required to eat very less on this day.

Other fasting day is Tisha Bav when the Babylonians destroyed the first Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Tisha Bav ends a three-week mourning period that many Jews observe of the tragedies that have befallen on them including the Holocaust.

Fasting is observed from sunset to the following day dusk and sick people and elderly are exempt. Other fasting days are Gedaliah fast, Tenth of Tevet fast, Fast of Esther and 17th of Tammuz fast. Some Jews also fast on the Bahab and Fast of the Firstborn as well.

Non-religious Fasting and Drinking Coffee

Besides religious fasting, there are some times when fasting is required – medically.

Fasting for Bloodwork

For bloodwork, a blood test is required and no food or drinks are allowed except water 8-12 hours prior to the test. This is due to the reason that any intake may alter test results and hence the patient is not allowed to take anything including coffee.

Intermittent Fasting and Coffee Consumption

The other type is called intermittent fasting. This is when a fast is observed in 16-hour intervals. This is mainly done for losing fat and building up muscles. It is a healthy way of living where people fast for 4 hours before sleeping and 4 hours after waking up, considering that an average sleep duration is 8 hours.

Black coffee consumption is allowed during this fasting. It is healthy, reduces weight due to having 0 calories and it helps in losing appetite.

Effects of Coffee on an Empty Stomach

Regardless of your religion allowing you to drink coffee during a fast, it is usually not recommended by doctors and nutritionists to consume coffee during or right after breaking a fast.

Since you have not eaten anything during your fasting hours, drinking coffee means that caffeine will directly affect your digestion system and you might end up in suffering from stomach aches, acidity or a diarrhea.

It is advised to eat something as soon as you break your religious or non-religious fast before you enjoy your favorite hot or cold brewed coffee.

Our Final Thoughts on Religious Fasting

Many mainstream religions around the world practice fasting as a means to clean the body and soul, it is clear that some allow some foods or drinks while others completely ban them.

Coffee or tea is allowed sometimes in some faiths while others like Judaism or Islam completely ban on consuming anything at all. Most have time periods from sunrise till sunset.

It is important that we keep ourselves hydrated during fasting. This means the intake of water and liquids before fasting is highly recommended especially during summers. Also, eating healthy is required during fasting.

Coffee is good as long as it is allowed in the respective religion. Avoiding fatty foods or dairy is generally a good idea. Fruits are also generally great during fasting and can be taken after breaking the fast, too. And same is the case with coffee consumption.

If your religious fasting does not allow you to have your cup of Joe during a fast, you can always have it before or after breaking your fast after having your nutritious meal to make sure you stay healthy and stay caffeinated as well!